Becoming a homeowner, whether it’s for the first time or the fifteenth, is exciting. The dream of making it yours becomes reality once you have your own place. However, amidst all the unpacking and decorating euphoria, remember it’s never too early to take steps to safeguard your new home base. One of the easiest things to do is call a family meeting a discuss safety measures in your new house. Cover things like what the new safety routine will be and where emergency contacts can be found. Here are just a few things to keep in mind when working on protecting the space you call home.
- The Outside. The first thing a would-be burglar is going to notice is the outside of your home. Make sure to maintain the lawn and landscaping. Consider hiring a neighbor kid to mow and water if you’ll be out of town. Plant prickly plants under any first floor windows and when landscaping, consider any potential “shadow spots,” or places burglars could hide when approaching your home. Add lighting. If money is a consideration, solar-powered lighting may be a solution. Put away all ladders and expensive outdoor ornaments or “toys.” Befriend a neighbor to pick up any packages that might arrive if you’ll be out of town. Bottom line: Ensure that from the outside your home looks lived in and cared for at all times.
- The Perimeter. Once you’ve established your yard is okay, move on to the perimeter of your house. It is ALWAYS a good idea to keep windows and doors locked at all times. Although it might seem like a hassle and an added expense at a time you don’t need one, change all locks on outside doors when you move in. If you don’t have a security system, consider adding stickers to first floor windows that indicate a system exists. Most home improvement stores carry something that will work. Ensure that all locks are adequate and in good working order. Don’t forget the garage! Make sure garage doors close properly and think about switching from door openers you keep in your car to ones you keep on your key ring, especially if you keep your cars parked outside. Bottom line: Lock up to stay safe and sound.
- The Security System. There are plenty of DIY versions as well as those monitored by companies. Research and decide what, if any, system is right for you. Don’t forget to look into whether or not you can register your system with your local community police and/or fire departments. If you can, any alarms will be sent to the proper authorities for follow through. Bottom line: While it may seem over the top, the majority of convicted burglars state they stay away from houses with active security systems.
- The Safe. In case someone does breach your perimeter, invest in a good, heavy, fire-and waterproof safe to keep important items secure. If you want to be extra cautious, buy one with redundant locking mechanisms for additional protection. Speaking of safes, you may consider creating a decoy “safe.” Something filled with a little money, costume jewelry, and a few papers that you keep somewhere a thief might look, like the freezer or a sock drawer. Burglars like to get in and get out so something easy to discover may be all they take. Bottom line: If you want your valuables with you, but protected, get a safe.
- The Wi-Fi Connection. Most of us don’t think of home safety and immediately think of our Wi-Fi, but it is increasingly becoming a factor in home security. As more and more homeowners turn to apps and other automations systems (more on that in a minute), it is ever more important to protect your tech devices from invasion. Make sure your Wi-Fi access is locked down and secure. Bottom line: Keep those computer connections safe.
- The Home Automation Option. Today’s world is increasingly tech savvy. There are more and more products available to help you with home safety. Anything from smart doorbells and instant video feeds to apps that let you program your thermostat or oven from afar, our smartphones can control almost all aspects of home safety. Consider investing in some home automation products if it makes sense for you. Bottom line: If you like technology, this may be a fun, intuitive way to protect your home.
- The Animal Factor. Experts are a bit divided on whether a big dog is more effective at detracting burglars, but most agree that the family pet could be helpful in securing your home. Not that we’re advocating you go out and procure a dog just to help with home security, but if you’ve been on the fence about adding a four-legged family member, this may just be one more item for the pro column. Bottom line: The family dog could make your home less attractive to would-be thieves.
There are literally hundreds of tips to help you keep your home safe. However, the only ones that count are the ones you actually implement. Increasing your home’s security factor doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking, but it could save you a world of headaches and heartaches down the road. One final tip that has the added benefit of being a potential life-long game changer: Get to know your neighbors. Not only will you have an opportunity to meet new people whom you can exchange friendly greetings with, but you also might just find a new friend for life. Our whirlwind lives make taking the time to meet our neighbors difficult, but you may find the reward is worth the effort.